Too many good things…

Written by on May 24, 2012

Anne Lindbergh’s words reminded me this morning of the proclivity so many of us have forliving crowded, cluttered, and consequently, anxious lives.  We have said yes to far too many projects and lunch appointments and soccer games and meetings and birthday parties. Our souls weigh heavy with an anxiety that is particular to men and women whose lives are piled with too many “good” things. We are overwhelmed, fatigued, and maybe even a bit afraid. We have failed to focus. The picture Lindbergh paints in her classic book Gift from the Sea (1955) spoke into my life. After returning home from a retreat at the beach she observes,

“One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few; and they are more beautiful if they are few. My life at home, I begin to realize, lacks this quality of significance, and therefore of beauty, because there is so little empty space. The space is scribbled on; the time has been filled. There are so few empty pages in my engagement pad, or empty hours in the day, or empty rooms in my life in which to stand alone and find myself. Too many activities, and people, and things. Too many worthy activities, valuable things, and interesting people. For it is not merely the trivial that clutters our lives, but the important as well. We can have a surfeit of treasures and excess shells—where one or two would be significant.”[1]

Questions for prayerful reflection: • What grabs you personally in Lindbergh’s quote? • Have you be trying to “collect all the beautiful shells on the beach” over the past year?  How so? • What fears play into your tendency to crowd your life with too many things? • Do you have any sense of where God might be inviting you to focus on a few activities, things, and people? Convert your thoughts into a prayer…


[1] Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea (Pantheon, 1991)

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